Sunday, November 22, 2015

A quiet afternoon at the bookstore

...can turn into something else entirely when my youngest grandson, aged 14, is out and about.

In other news, we are expecting our first hard freeze in North Georgia tonight. Temperatures will drop into the 20s (Fahrenheit) , so I have turned off the water supply to the outside spigots and covered the gardenia bush with a queen-sized sheet. The camellias and azaleas will just have to fend for themselves. But they are a hardy lot and have survived every winter of their blooming lives so far.

Today is also the 52nd anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald. Fewer and fewer people remember that terrible day. To my grandson, so full of life, it is ancient history.

John and Jackie Kennedy at Love Field in Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963. (Photo by Art Rickerby—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

“[I]n the sunny freshness of a Texas morning,” LIFE magazine would write in its Nov. 29, 1963, issue, “with roses in her arms and a luminous smile on her lips, Jacqueline Kennedy still had one hour to share the buoyant surge of life with the man at her side.”

Life goes on, except when it doesn’t.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A horrible example is more effective than a word to the wise every time

It wasn’t in the night, but it definitely went bump.

I was in my bathroom on Thursday morning, sitting on what Americans quaintly call “the potty” and reading blogs on my iPhone at the same time. Eventually I finished both activities, but I must have been sitting there for quite a while because when I tried to rise, my jammies still at half-mast, I discovered that my feet and lower legs had fallen asleep. I pitched forward, unable to stand. To call my temporary affliction the “wobblies” would be a bit of an understatement.

Something went bump all right.


Kersplat is more like it.

Narrowly missing both the shower door and the bathtub, I made a perfect three-point landing on the tile floor.

To keep your imagination from running wild, I hasten to divulge that the three points were my left elbow, my left pinky finger, and my head. I do have a few bruises and scrapes and my body seems to be sore all over, but I was not seriously injured.

Thanks be to God.

Since there but for the grace of God go you, I want to leave you with what Michael Conrad in the role of Sergeant Phil Esterhaus used to say at the beginning of every episode of Hill Street Blues:

“Let’s be careful out there.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sayings of Chairman Obama

June 2015:

November 12, 2015:

November 16, 2015:

...and on and on it goes. On and on and on.

I have stopped listening, but stupidity is hard to ignore.

God help us all.

Even the very liberal Democratic Senator from California, Dianne Feinstein, a longtime member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, could not keep silent. Here is an article from the Washington New Beacon:

Feinstein Contradicts Obama: ISIS ‘Is Not Contained,’ It’s ‘Expanding’
by Alex Griswold, November 16th, 2015

Democratic California Senator Dianne Feinstein contradicted President Barack Obama‘s statement Thursday that the U.S. had “contained” ISIS, telling MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that they were actually gaining strength.

“We have been talking about the president’s strategy, he reiterated his strategy today,” Mitchell said to begin the interview. “You have said before that 50 special forces is not enough. What would it take to defeat ISIS?”

“Well, let me begin by saying this; I have never been more concerned,” Feinstein said. “I read the intelligence faithfully. ISIL is not contained, ISIL is expanding. They just put out a video saying it is their intent to attack this country…”

“There’s only one way we are going to diminish them and that is by taking them out, because they are growing. They are in more than a dozen countries now, they are sophisticated, they have apps to communicate on that cannot be pierced even with a court order.”

“They are on the march. It is important to recognize this and prepare to deal with it with action,” Feinstein concluded. “And candidly, I don’t think bombing runs alone, we have done about 8,000 now, can really make a difference.”

(end of article)

I saw another headline today that said “France’s President Hollande Makes Obama Look Like A Fool”

That headline is wrong.

President Obama is doing it all by himself.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats ?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Égorger nos fils, nos compagnes !

Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons !
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons !

Friday, November 13, 2015

Incontrovertible proof that I am a grammar nerd

In my last post we were going to talk about when to use less and when to use fewer. But we never got around to it. Pity. At this point, that’s water under the bridge.

Sometimes I think I am a grammar nerd. (I can hear my daughter saying, “Sometimes?” But I digress.)

Take quotation marks, for instance. (I am suddenly reminded of the old one-liner by comedian Henny Youngman, “Take my wife -- please.” Oops, I did it again.)

I digress a lot. Any little thing and my mind flits off in another direction entirely. For example, on a Christian blog I read quite often, there was a small discussion going on a few days ago about the communion of saints (which phrase occurs in the last paragraph of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”) and I was suddenly off on another subject because of some quotation marks that I felt were unnecessary. I mentioned it in a comment and a short exchange ensued:

been there, done that (formerly rhymeswithplague) says:
November 6, 2015 at 9:08 am

I believe in the communion of saints. I didn’t use to, but I have come to as more and more friends and family depart this life. But something else about this post alarms me.

I am concerned about the increasing use of quotation marks on this site. Quotation marks are funny things. They can mean This Is Exactly What Was Said (Or Written) or they can mean Not Really, I’m Just Being Symbolic, Don’t Take Me Literally. A few days ago, the Trinity was described on this site as God in three “persons” and I took exception to it. I believe God exists in three persons, not in three “persons”….In today’s post it happened again. Twice. First in describing God’s realm as “heaven” and then in saying Jesus will “return”…perhaps I’m being overly pedantic and semantic, but God’s realm is real — heaven (not “heaven”) — and Jesus will return in actuality (not “return”).

Flannery O’Connor’s famous reply when Mary McCarthy said that the Eucharist was symbolic, “Well, if it’s symbolic, to hell with it.”, applies here. Heaven, God in three persons, and Jesus’ return are not symbolic. They are an actual place, an actual state, and an actual event. I am not Roman Catholic (actually, I’m Methodist) — you would have a hard time getting me to accept that Mary was assumed bodily into heaven or that she is the co-mediatrix of all grace or that the pope is infallible when speaking ex cathedra — but I agree with Flannery on this one. If you want me to believe in “heaven” instead of heaven, in Jesus’ “return” instead of His return, I say “to hell with it.” And you can quote me on that.

I know this was off-topic, but I needed to get that off my chest.

Chaplain Mike says:
November 6, 2015 at 9:22 am

Bob there is a difference between the reality and our conceptions of it. When I use quotation marks, as in this post, it is to highlight the fact that we have words from scripture that name what is in fact inconceivable and indescribable. I do not mean to question the reality of these things, merely to point out that the realities we are trying to describe are above our pay grade.

This is an attempt to show humility, not deny reality.

been there, done that (formerly rhymeswithplague) says:
November 6, 2015 at 9:40 am

Understood. Thanks, Chaplain Mike, for clearing that up.

Mike H says:
November 6, 2015 at 9:35 am

I think that “quotes” are often used in recognition that some terms have a certain deeply ingrained popular usage, and that those ingrained definitions can derail a conversation if we aren’t conscious of how they’re being used. “Heaven” as fluffy cloud heaven in the sky, for example. Using quotes isn’t a sign that something isn’t real; it draws attention to the deeply ingrained ways we have of thinking about them.

That’s how I often use quotes anyways.

(end of cited material)

There are several wildly hilarious websites with examples of misused quotation marks. I will let you look them up for yourself. Far be it from me to force you to do anything.

But to repeat what I was trying to say at the beginning, anyone whose mission is to explain to others the difference between less and fewer or to straighten out the world’s insistence on using quotation marks inappropriately is definitely a grammar nerd.

I plead guilty and I throw myself upon the mercy of the court.

Perhaps you can discuss appropriate punishment in the comments.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Scientia potentia est*

The two major American political parties have begun the long, arduous road to the 2016 presidential election by holding a series of so-called debates at which potential candidates can put forth their views so that the general public, or at least the party faithful, can narrow their choices from five or 10 or 16 (yes, 16) to three or four before the individual states hold their primaries after the first of the year. The Republicans are holding nine debates and the Democrats are holding six.

One of the Republican candidates, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, was applauded at Tuesday’s fourth Republican presidential debate when he called for easier access to vocational schools. Then he made the following remarkable statement: “For the life of me I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education. Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.”

As you might expect, philosophy majors and professors all over this great land of ours were appalled and have been expressing their disagreement with the Senator.

I am appalled as well, but not for the same reason the philosophers are.

We may need more welders -- I really don’t know -- but Senator Rubio should never have said, “We need more welders and less philosophers.” Clearly, what he should have said was, “We need more welders and fewer philosophers.”

Obviously, what we really need are more English majors.

*Knowledge is power

Monday, November 2, 2015

The first shall be last, and...well, you know.

And if you don’t, the full statement is that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

I’m sure I do not understand all the ramifications of that statement of Jesus Christ’s, but it has special meaning for me because -- full disclosure here -- I was always first in my class academically but on the athletic fields of my youth I was always chosen last. And when I say always, in both cases I mean ALWAYS.

Don’t get me wrong. Over the years, I’ve learned that I am not nearly as bright as I once thought I was. There is obviously a great deal about which I haven’t a clue (British: klew) . I’m no Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein. I’m not even Malcolm Muggeridge. Far from it. I did manage to earn a decent living working for both IBM and AT&T, but so did thousands of others. Smarter replacements arrive all the time. I am well down the list in the brains department. My athletic abilities have not improved one whit. The fulfillment of that particular prophecy/wish of last becoming first is apparently still in the future.

Life is funny (not funny ha-ha, funny peculiar) and things often have a way of working out. Hopes and dreams have a way of coming to pass. For example, Mrs. Janet Baines Brockett, my high-school math teacher, neighbor, and friend, thought I should go to Duke University. I didn’t, but one of my grandsons is a student there now. Miss Sally Pearce, my first band director, wanted me to spend a summer at the famous music camp in Interlochen, Michigan. I didn’t, but that same grandson did. I always loved baseball and longed to be able to play better. So far it hasn’t happened, but another of my grandsons was recruited to play on his college’s baseball team. Two grandsons have excelled at basketball. One actually played three different sports. All of the grandchildren are excellent students; there’s not a ringer in the bunch. One is an excellent trumpet player. One is an excellent French Horn player. Two are excellent dancers. And since these young people are extensions of me and have my blood coursing through their veins, I participate vicariously in their successes and revel in their accomplishments. It’s almost as though I’m right there too.

Please don’t try to disabuse me of this odd notion or tell me that’s not what Jesus meant. Some days it’s all I have.